A London care home has been ordered to pay more than £170,000 in fines and costs following a fire that killed an elderly resident.
Woolwich Crown Court heard that the incident took place at Rose Court care home in Bermondsey on 26 March 2010. Paula Parle, who suffered from dementia, died following a fire in her room, which was caused by her nightwear coming into contact with a naked flame.
Anchor Trust, which manages Rose Court, failed to carry out a specific fire risk assessment in relation to Mrs Parle. The 74-year-old was a known smoker and her family had raised concerns to the home about her heavy smoking and access to lighters. They had asked staff to manage the amount she smoked.
Rose Court put together a policy that would limit Mrs Parle’s access to cigarettes and lighters and monitor her smoking, but this wasn’t effectively monitored. Staff also failed to notice and respond to clear warning signs including cigarette burn marks on the carpet.
Anchor Trust appeared in court on 22 September and pleaded guilty to breaching Article 9(1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, for failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment, and Article 11(1) of the same legislation, for not effectively planning, monitoring, or reviewing the preventive and protective measures at the premises. It was fined £60,000 for each offence and ordered to pay £50,622 in costs.
London Fire Brigade deputy commissioner Rita Dexter described the incident as ‘preventable’, she said: ‘The danger signs were clear but Rose Court did not regularly update the fire risk assessments of everyone in its care, which would have helped staff to realise that a smoking related fire was likely if Mrs Parle was left to smoke unsupervised.
‘It is absolutely shocking that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are still dying from fires in places where they should be safe. Every care home needs to look at their fire risk assessments and tailor them to meet the real needs of the individual residents in their care.’